Lessons From Building Parsnip: Why My 2019 Was All About The Letter P

By Sally Rogers
Jan. 9, 2020

January 2020: the perfect time to reflect on 2019, on those 365 full and fulfilling days. Fortunately, I feel like I’ve been reflecting for months now. 2019 was a year of significant movement at Parsnip, and since both personal and professional decisions for me are typically fueled by a ton of reflection and projection, I’ve been in an endless state of introspection all year! But I knew I wanted to share with you all that I’ve learned from that movement, from building Parsnip in 2019. And in that reflection, I found that my 2019 was all about the letter P.


The single driving force that kept me motivated, encouraged, and determined this year was pluck. I had no idea I had it in me, but as the year progressed a strength, courage, and resoluteness had no choice but to reveal itself. My former co-founder and I had to have some of the most difficult conversations in my life. My pluck kept me waking up each day and focused on Parsnip. When I found out Parsnip got another interview to Y Combinator (remember that we had one in Fall 2018 too), pluck came out. Parsnip got in. Product-market fit proved elusive throughout the summer and into the Fall, and pluck kept us pushing. Our product roadmap is full. What I learned through all of this? When I needed it most, my deep pluck (which honestly, I realize now had been years in development) came out and helped me through. I now know I’ve got it in me for the future!


So yeah, back to the elusive product-market fit. It’s tough in the world of partnership, because partnership means something different to everyone. When the walls of a target market regularly shift based on your expectations, or the expectations of the market, it’s really hard to quickly and easily get to product-market fit. But, that reality just meant tremendous opportunity for us, which is why we opened up Event creation to all Parsnip members, launched more robust profiles for members, enabled consumer access to Parsnip brands to encourage better purchasing decisions, and have Campaign creation on the immediate horizon. Through all of this testing, one thing about partnership continues to prevail (beyond what I learned in the first year of building Parsnip): if partners aren’t aligned on values (or attributes/themes/goals), it doesn’t matter how good anything else is. Consumers KNOW when partnerships aren’t rooted in something meaningful. So we’re sticking with the importance of our data, our profiles and crazy amounts of tagging. Because all that data helps us help YOU find your next partner!

Priorities, both Personal and Professional

Whoa, a lot of ‘Ps’ here. I had set a lot of goals in 2019, but a really important personal goal was that my husband and I wanted to move back to Boston, after 7 years in San Francisco. We missed New England! Giving my all to Y Combinator was the most important professional goal, but that really challenged our ability to move back East before it got cold (we’d heard that’s a terrible time to move…). Since I couldn’t reconcile these seemingly conflicting priorities, I just had to focus on one single truth: focusing solely on Y Combinator was ultimately the single important professional AND personal goal, as it would help Parsnip come to life in a more efficient, meaningful way, which would ultimately be an incredible personal journey for us. Phew! What I learned through all this? You can really only have one major priority at any given time, and you should make all roads lead back to that. Then you’re optimizing your ability to achieve it and enjoying the journey without worrying about that feeling of conflicting priorities! And yes, we did move back to Boston… and arrived in cold and rain. But loving it here!


In general, I think I’ve always been a positive and generally optimistic person. I see the world as a good place, and believe the best about people. As 2019 was an intense year of transitions for me, I found that the more I believed in good and positive people and experiences, the more that came back to me. This positivity has enabled me to arrive in Boston and immediately find community (hello Boston Business Women and The Wing); to support the dozens of other female-founders in Y Combinator with the positivity needed to get on the stage and pitch; to work through challenging hurdles in growing a tech startup and finding product-market fit. What I’ve learned about staying positive? Shining positivity out to the world mean optimism and goodness shines back.


From pluck to partnership to priorities to positivity, I love finding all my learnings continue to rely on my deep passion for supporting better-for-you brands. I want every person that wants to make a better choice about what they buy every day to be able to discover YOU, whether it be at an event or through an influencer or at the grocery store (or through our new consumer site!). That’s what I’m passionate about! But I can’t just scream about you guys from the rooftops everyday (though sometimes I do…). Instead, I’m focused further upstream, where I’m building the platform to help brands find other brands, events, influencers, or agencies – so you can maximize your growth with values-aligned partners. Thanks for being on this journey!

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